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7 Benefits and Side Effects of Fucoidan (6 Contraindications To Be Noted) [Updated Feb/2023]

Fucoidan is a popular cancer adjuvant treatment health food, which has attracted widespread attention because of its antioxidant, anti-cancer (inhibition of cancer cell angiogenesis, induce cancer cell self-destruction), anti-inflammatory and other properties. Note 6

However, up to now, relevant research is mostly limited to animals and in vitro, and human studies are still in the embryonic stage, but what are the possible efficacy and side effects, see the internal analysis report

What is fucoidan?

Fucoidan is a sulfated polysaccharides rich in sulfate groups, mainly found in the extracellular interstitium of brown algae, green algae and other algae, and is also one of the components of some marine invertebrates (such as sea urchins and sea cucumbers).

This polysaccharide ingredient was first isolated from marine brown algae by Dr. Kylin in 1913 and named “fucoidan”, which is now uniformly named fucoidan, while he was analyzing the reasons for the low incidence of cancer in Okinawa, Japan.

Numerous animal and in vitro studies have found that fucoidan gum has a variety of biological activities such as antibacterial, antioxidant, anticoagulant, antiviral, antitumor, anti-inflammatory, etc., which make it an ideal choice for biomaterials and drug development.

What are the proven benefits of fucoidan?

  1. Fucoidan is beneficial for colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is the top 3 common cancers, with an estimated annual total of about 1.2 million new cancer cases and more than 63,000 cancer deaths, accounting for almost 8% of all cancer deaths.

Despite many methods of cancer detection, the overall long-term prognosis of patients who undergo surgical resection has not changed significantly over the past decade, with a 5-year survival rate of about 60%, and more than half of colorectal cancers are still diagnosed only when they involve regional or distant sites.

A prospective, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial (6 months, 60 patients with metastatic colorectal cancer) pointed out that compared with the control group treated with chemical targets alone, small molecule fucoidan gum (4 grams twice daily) outside chemotherapy could improve the disease control rate, but there was no significant improvement in other indicators (such as overall response rate (ORR), no deterioration survival (PFS), overall survival rate (OS). ), adverse effects (AEs) and quality of life (QOL). Note 1

*Conclusion: For patients with metastatic colorectal cancer, the adjuvant use of fucoidan gum in addition to targeted therapy may improve the disease control rate

  1. Fucoidan is beneficial for alcoholic liver injury (animal studies)

Excessive alcohol consumption is a global health care problem. Since the liver is the main site of ethanol metabolism, heavy drinking causes the most serious tissue damage to the liver.

Steatosis is the earliest reaction to alcoholism, characterized by fatty deposits within liver cells, which can progress to steatohepatitis, a more serious inflammatory liver injury.

This stage can lead to fibrosis development, excessive extracellular matrix protein deposition, and progression to cirrhosis, with excessive scarring of the liver, vascular changes, and eventually liver failure. About 35 percent of problem drinkers will develop advanced liver disease.

An animal study on rodents pointed out that fucoidan gum inhibits alcohol-induced steatosis and bile acid metabolism disorders through the AMPKα1/SIRT1 pathway and the intestinal microbiome-bile acid-liver axis, and prevents alcohol-induced liver damage. Note 1

*Conclusion: Animal studies suggest that fucoidan gum may have a positive effect on alcoholic liver injury, but human studies are still lacking and need to be confirmed

  1. Fucoidan is beneficial for antoimmune diabetes (type 1 diabetes) (animal studies)

Autoimmune diabetes, also known as Type 1 diabetes, is characterized by insulin deficiency, which is caused by the destruction of pancreatic β cells by the immune system’s autoreactive T cells, resulting in a gradual decrease in functional β cell mass and decreased insulin secretion.

Type 1 diabetes is an inherited polygenic disorder with a consistent risk of 30% to 70% for identical twins, 6% to 7% for siblings, and 1% to 9% for children with diabetes in one parent. Overall, it is about 250 in 1. The incidence is slightly higher in men than in women.

An animal study on rodents pointed out that brown algal glycoglue regulates dendritic cell/regulatory T cell-induced immune tolerance, improves intestinal microecology, downregulates TLR4 signaling pathway, and maintains the environment in the pancreas… and other ways to inhibit the occurrence of autoimmune diabetes in mice. Note 1

*Conclusion: Animal studies suggest that fucoidan gum may have a positive effect on type 1 diabetes, but human studies are still lacking and need to be verified

  1. Fucoidan helps lose weight and improve obesity (animal studies)

Obesity (body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 kg/m2) has a wide range of effects on body systems, including dyslipidemia, hypertension, sleep-disordered breathing, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and orthopedic diseases.

Around the world, obesity-related deaths are expected to soon exceed those related to tobacco abuse.

Because of these comorbidities, the healthcare costs directly associated with obesity are difficult to determine, but conservative estimates estimate the healthcare burden to be around $1500 billion per year.

An animal study (in foodborne obese mice) found that brown glycan supplementation reduced body weight, food utilization, relative liver and epididymal fat mass, triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL levels. Note 2

*Conclusion: Animal experiments have found that fucoidan gum may be positively helpful in improving obesity, but further verification is still needed in human experiments

  1. Fucoidan improves osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease and the most common cause of total hip and knee replacements.

Among adults over 60 years of age, the prevalence of symptomatic knee arthritis is about 10% in men and 13% in women, and the number of people is increasing rapidly due to population ageing and obesity epidemics.

Knee symptoms can vary depending on the cause of the problem, the most common symptom is pain, stiffness, swelling around the knee joint, which can be dull, intense, persistent, and may appear more frequently over time, including during rest or at night.

A randomized, double-blind controlled trial (12 weeks, 122 patients with mild to moderate osteoarthritis) noted that oral fucoidan gum (300 mg per day) did not produce better condition improvement than placebo (as measured by the Comprehensive Osteoarthritis Test) and there were no clinically meaningful changes in related blood measurements (cholesterol, liver function, renal function, hematopoietic function). Note 3

*Conclusion: So far, the use of fucoidan gum has not brought significant help to improve osteoarthritis

  1. Fucoidan increases the protective efficacy after influenza vaccination

In the United States, Influenza virus infections cause up to 430,000 hospitalizations and 20,000 t0 40,000 deaths each year, with more than 90% of those deaths occurring in older people.

As individuals age, immunosenescence leads to increased susceptibility to infections, resulting in higher morbidity and mortality compared to younger adults.

Immunosenescence not only impairs the ability to fight off infections, but also reduces the ability to protect against vaccination.

A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study (24 weeks in 70 older adults receiving influenza vaccine) showed that oral fucoidan gum significantly increased antibody titers and natural killer cell activity after vaccination compared with placebo. Note 4

*Conclusion: For the elderly with low immune function, the intake of fucoidan gum can increase the production of antibodies after vaccination, which may have a positive effect on the prevention of influenza.

  1. Fucoidan improve skin damage caused by photoaging (animal studies)

Among the many factors, ultraviolet rays are the most widely known external factors that promote skin aging, also known as photoaging.

Photoaging is a process of premature skin aging characterized by sunburn, wrinkles, loss of elasticity, dryness, pigmentation, actinic keratoses, attributed to continuous and long-term exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation (including UVA and UVB).

Unlike sunburn and tanning reactions, which take hours to days to form, photoaging takes decades.

An animal study pointed out that ingestion of small molecule fucoidan gum significantly inhibited the formation of wrinkles, skin edema and neutrophils entering photodamage lesions caused by ultraviolet radiation compared with the control group that was not ingested. Note 5

The mechanism behind it is related to the enhancement of endogenous antioxidants and the inhibition of oxidative stress.

*Conclusion: Animal studies have found that small molecule brown algal glue can bring protective effect on light-induced skin aging, but further verification is still needed in human studies

Are there any side effects of fucoidan gum?

Studies have known to show that the use of fucoidan gum in the short term is highly tolerated at appropriate doses, and diarrhea has been reported as a side effect or adverse reaction (especially at high doses)

Safety precautions

1. Do not use if you are pregnant, lactating women, and those with poor liver and kidney function

2. Although rare, some people have a very serious allergic reaction to brown algae extract, and in general, people who are allergic to plants such as soybeans may also be allergic to brown algae glue.

3. May have hemodiluting properties, so patients with poor coagulation function and anticoagulants should not use it, and please stop using it two weeks before surgery

4. The iodine content of brown algae is usually high, although the iodine content of brown algae gum extract is much less than that of seaweed itself, but it is still necessary to pay attention to people who need to limit iodine intake to avoid overdose, such as thyroid-related diseases

5. Cell experiments have found that fucoidan may inhibit the effect of breast cancer target drugs (lapatinib/lapatinib), which should be noted before use. Note 6

6. For patients with poor liver and kidney function, it is recommended to consult a professional medical professional before use to ensure safety

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